Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 135
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The Martinshof Story -
A Philosophy of Happiness -
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Monday, January 11 2010
Philosophy of Happiness : 5 continues from January 6
I must admit that, just like my mother, I hate visitors, dinner parties and other such
social gatherings. When guests arrived at our family home Martinshof my mother would always feign to
have a headache and retire upstairs to the bedroom where she would happily spend
all afternoon reading a book.
I too try to avoid such situations but occasionally find myself in one largely
for politeness sake (although my behaviour at such occasions tend to belie
that sentiment). I find the conversations invariably inconsequential, trivial and very very
It is reassuring however that my mother and I (and I suspect many other
intelligent introverts) are not alone in these anti-social feelings.
Take for example Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), who
much preferred the company of his poodle (he had a succession of them
throughout his life, and always addressed them as "Sir") instead of people :
"A man of genius can hardly be sociable, for what dialogue could indeed be so intelligent and entertaining as his own
Although I certainly do not claim to be a genius, I share
exactly Schopenhauer's sentiments and find the meaningless social prattle merely
annoying "static" disturbing the flow of my own thoughts and a waste of my time.
Or take Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) who stated "Really, there is nobody living about whom I care much. The
people I like have been dead for a long, long time . . ."
With a few exceptions, I too feel a much greater affinity to some people
long dead (Pythagoras, J S Bach, Erik Satie, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein,
some philosophers, writers, artists : who's achievements have enriched my life
or helped me to comprehend my identity in the context of the universe), than most
people living today.
I personally also interpret Nietzsche's (above) statement in a more positive
and constructive way : the true worth (to humanity) of
an individual becomes often only apparent after his/her death.
Will my life
have some worth for future generations? I don't know, but the chance is of course
very small at best. Perhaps my ideas on music (much of it displayed on my
Website) will survive the passage of time. That would certainly be nice.
Not surprisingly both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche were pessimists and considered
life a sustained period of suffering (Schopenhauer : "It
is bad today and every day it will get worse, until the worst of all
This is of course were I am in strong disagreement with both of them. I see life
as a unique and wonderful opportunity to experience the world and universe around
us. The two pessimists should have listened to Epicurus (341-270 BC) and make
some good (living, human) friends in order to become happy.
To reconcile Schopenhauer and Nietzsche's (as well as my) attitude towards
socialising with Epicurus's pursuit of happiness through having friends it is
necessary to reassess the purpose of a social conversation.
here that I take my advice from John Gray ("Men are from Mars, Women
are from Venus"). Contrary to men, Gray suggests, for women it is not
important what is being said or discussed, but that a conversation
(an emotional human interaction) is taking place. It is an important form of
Although not a woman, I too see most conversations from this perspective. However I
prefer (and in fact very much enjoy) to have these exchanges on a one to one
basis and avoid larger social groups whenever possible.
Philosophy of Happiness continues on January 25
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Tuesday - Friday, January 12 - 15 2010
Yes, it is my birthday today (Friday the 15th). Thirteen years ago Malveen made
this birthday card in water colour (her preferred medium) for my 60th birthday.
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As it happens she is the first one to wish me "Happy Birthday" this morning
(by email) as I am busy writing on my laptop and I suddenly remember her card.
Way back in Spain, when I was doing my field work there as a geology student
(1956-61), my nickname was Don Quijote, of which I was very proud. I still
am in fact : in Spain Don Quijote is a hero.
I am a bit slow on my Blog at present as I am focusing my attention on the Martinshof Story which I still need to
We have been back at bridge at the Diddilliba Bridge Club this Tuesday. We had just three
tables, but it was a very pleasant morning. Three of the ladies wanted some extra
bridge tuition, so we had another morning of bridge yesterday at Joanne's home,
which was also good fun.
Tonight Antien (my ex) arrives from Kangaroo Island (South
Australia) to spend a few days with her daughter and we will celebrate both
Babette's and my birthday tomorrow night with dinner at the Spirit house. I look forward
Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner